Sometimes commenters need to be put in their place

Early this afternoon, I was surprised to see that Machead John Gruber had posted "Clam Chowder: Joe Wilcox on Verizon and Apple." He referred to my Jan. 8, 2011 post: "Why Verizon won't let Apple announce iPhone." The headline played off the title to a TechCrunch post I rebutted: "Why Apple Will Let Verizon Announce An iPhone." I disagreed with reasons that put Apple solely in control of the Verizon iPhone announcement, which was then just rumored.

I normally wouldn't bother responding to Gruber's typical slash-and-attack pulpit (Hey, it's free speech and his right). But Gruber quoted a comment posted here at Betanews, and that warrants response because it misquotes or takes out of context my January 8th post. In fact, I wrote a response in comments, but before posting I realized just how long it was and decided to do a separate, full-post response instead. Hence, what follows is my response to commenter iphonedroidberry, whose identity I don't know. But the commenter's first Betanews login was two days ago. You can read iphonedroidberry's full comment following my response. I will address additional issues after the quoted comment.

My Response to iphonedroidberry

iphonedroidberry wrote: "Verizon has no control over software/firmware or updates, or scheduling of update release dates...VZW also got NO exclusivity on a CDMA version of iPhone in the US that means Sprint and other smaller carriers may get their CDMA version of iPhone later this year or next year."

I reread my own story wondering where I said that Verizon would have its brand on the phone and would load it up with crapware. I asserted no such thing. My point was lost on you, I guess: Verizon and not Apple controls its network. I stand by that assertion.

I never asserted or even expected that Verizon would get an exclusive deal for CDMA. Apple is no longer in the habit of making exclusive deals now that iPhone has momentum. Apple wants distribution, and, as the exclusive AT&T iPhone deal shows, exclusive agreements hurt distribution.

I've stated in several other posts going back more than two years that Apple controls software updates and the company changed the paradigm by doing so first with AT&T. Apple's control over software updates is essential to keeping the iOS platform fairly uniform for the customer experience and also for application development.

I was most intrigued by how you used snippet quotes to emphasize your point. Verizon "takes no crap from suppliers" is fine. I wrote that. It's true, and I stand by that assertion. But you took liberties with "Verzon 'is in the driver's seat'"; that's very naughty. I wrote that: "No one should expect Verizon to take a backseat to Apple," which is much different. The full quote in context: "No one should expect Verizon to take a backseat to Apple, the way AT&T has. Verizon will be ruthless promoting the benefits of its network over AT&T's for iPhone. But Verizon also sells many other smartphones, Androids among them, and announced many new handsets during this week's Consumer Electronics Show. Verizon won't depend on iPhone the way AT&T has."

I also never wrote that "Verizon 'won't cow before Jobs.'" I wrote that Verizon's CEO "isn't the type to cow before Jobs, no matter how revered." The full quote in context: "Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg is a formidable figure in American business. His cunning acquisitions brought together Bell Atlantic, GTE and (and earlier NYNEX) to form Verizon in 2000. He didn't need an iPhone to relaunch or rebrand. Seidenberg isn't the type to cow before [Apple CEO Steve] Jobs, no matter how revered." I should point out that Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead and Apple COO Tim Cook led the iPhone announcement. Not Seidenberg or Jobs. You should really ask yourself why. The answer will shed some insight into the meanings behind what I wrote on January 8th.

I was aghast by misquote "Verizon 'set the terms of the deal.'" I wrote, in full context: "At the least Verizon is on fairly equal footing negotiating terms and selecting launch venue. Dalrymple's mistake is the same as many other people watching Apple -- assuming the company will set the terms of the deal and lead the launch. No way, Jose." I never ever said that Verizon would set the terms of the deal. I asserted my friend Jim Dalrymple and other Macheads wrongly assumed that Apple would set the terms of the deal. That's a nasty misquote.

My January 8th post had three clear points:

  • That Macheads (I assume you are one, iphonedroidberry) arrogantly assumed that Apple and only Apple was driving the announcement.
  • That it was wrong to assume Apple didn't send out the event invitation so as to avoid rumors about iPad 2 and other products.
  • That Verizon was a partner with Apple (at least on equal footing), which the New York launch venue indicated, among other things.

That addresses most of the points, but two remain from your list. You mocked that there was "no V-CAST software" and "no Verizon selling of games, music or apps." Verizon hasn't yet released iPhone 4, so you don't know what apps the carrier may offer. In Apple's App Store, AT&T offers its own applications for iPhone, such as the one letting U-verse customers schedule and stream programs. Verizon already offers two iPhone apps for its FiOS service. I would be surprised if Verizon doesn't eventually offer in the App Store a V-CAST app and others. While there is no Verizon branding on iPhone, I expect to see Verizon branded iPhone 4 cases.

iphonedroidberry's Full Comment Posted January 11th

Another couple of items that point out how Verizon cowed to Apple: Verizon has no control over software/firmware or updates, or scheduling of update release dates. On every Android phone they do have this type of control. VZW also got NO exclusivity on a CDMA version of iPhone in the U.S. that means Sprint and other smaller carriers may get their CDMA version of iPhone later this year or next year.

So, to recap, here is how Verizon "takes no crap from suppliers", and how Verzon "is in the driver's seat", and how Verizon "won't cow before Jobs" and how Verizon "set the terms of the deal":

a) no V-cast software
b) no Verizon software/bloatware/crapware (of their own or of their partners)
c) no verizon selling of games music or apps
d) no verizon branding on the hardware
e) no verizon control of software/firmware or updates
f) no verizon control of scheduling of release dates for software updates

g) NO exclusivity deal for a USA CDMA version of iPhone

Beyond those tiny little things, if you overlook items a thru g, yes, Verizon is definitely wearing the pants in the Apple/Verizon relationship.

I can't believe Wilcox actually published this piece of crap fantasy story masquerading as an article and actually got paid to do so.

Couple More Things

I won't speak to iphonedroidberry's motivation or zealousness, but will make an observation. Little more than three hours before this comment was posted, I quoted iphonedroidberry in post "Would you buy Verizon iPhone?"

Something else: Nearly all the other criticism of the January 8th post is directed at one sentence, which I assert has been interpreted out of context: "Verizon controls everything on its network and is quick to customize handsets with its software and services." That has been used to assert my claiming Verizon would offer its own software bundle on iPhone. I said nothing like that. In context:

Verizon isn't AT&T. The United States' largest cellular carrier isn't accustomed to taking crap from handset manufacturers. Verizon controls everything on its network and is quick to customize handsets with its software and services. AT&T is different, or was when Apple launched the original iPhone in June 2007. AT&T made lots of concessions to get iPhone, such as granting Apple control over the software and updates. The company then known as Cingular was relaunching as AT&T; iPhone would anchor the brand change. But Apple made concessions, too, as a handset manufacturing newcomer, granting AT&T exclusive US iPhone distribution rights for what was then reported to be five years.

I was making an attitudinal point about the difference between AT&T and Verizon and also how different are the circumstances for 2007 versus 2011 iPhone distribution deals. It's ridiculous that Apple would cede the huge platform advantages of distributing software to Verizon. More importantly, such action would open demands from other carriers; there's no reason for Apple to do that. Anyone who has read what I've consistently written about Apple and the advantages of controlling software load and updates shouldn't need this explanation.

Following that one paragraph, I went on to present subscriber data for AT&T and Verizon and compared Android and iPhone sales (meaty stuff ignored by my Machead critics). All to make a point: Apple and Verizon need each other, rather than Verizon begging for iPhone and Apple controlling everything as numerous commentaries and punditries had asserted.

Bottom line: I stand by my January 8th post in the context it was written. I take a lot of crap from obnoxious commenters who flame me with nothing more than ridicule. Every once and awhile I need to push back. I chose this instance because of how grossly what I wrote had been misquoted and twisted out of context.

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